Single Reps; 5 minute Rests

Single Rep = 1 rep
R = Rest

Fig. 3-8 10 Single Reps; 5 minute Rests

This is not to say a high load is an unimportant component in the growthinducing formula. Quite the contrary. Using near-maximal poundage´s has a pronounced effect on a muscle's Fatigue/Tension level. It´s just that you must structure your workout to maximize fatigue-fast pace, short rests as well as the tension. In general, using heavier weights raises the entire F/T curve. It also makes the curve peak at a higher level because heavier weights increase fatigue as well as tension!

Here are the curves for the same exercise done at the same pace, first with lighter weights, then with heavier:

Fig_3-9.gif - 11403 Bytes

S = Set
R = Rest

Fig. 3-9 Fatigue/Tension level; Light weight
Fig_3-10.gif - 13301 Bytes

S = Set
R = Rest

Fig. 3-9 Fatigue/Tension level; Heavy weight

Notice how much steeper the second curve is, and how much sooner it crosses the Fatigue/Tension Threshold.


We listed four things that affect the tension generated within a muscle during exercise: form, load, leverage, and mental focus.

Leverage is the most recent of these to be incorporated into workout routines. The last few years have seen the introduction of the "Eccentric Cam" into sophisticated weight training equipment-Nautilus machines, for instance. The Eccentric Cam is an acknowledgement of a fact we discussed earlier-that the strength of a muscle varies across its range of motion.

When doing a bicep curl you have better leverage, and thus more strength, when you are just under halfway through the curl than when your arm is fully extended.

Therefore, it takes more weight to generate the same tension within the muscle when your arm is bent than when it is extended. So a weight heavy enough to provide maximal resistance when your arm is bent is going to be much too heavy when your arm is extended.

Remember, each muscle has its own unique strength curve. A good exercise pits a muscle against resistance that varies in relation to the muscle's strength. This means that for you to perceive the resistance as constant, the resistance must vary to match your strength at all points throughout the range of motion.

Through an application of biomechanical principles, it's possible to design exercises that do not involve expensive equipment, but do provide the benefits of variable resistance. This leads to a higher Fatigue/Tension levet and faster growth!

  • An effective routine must be structured to maximize the Fatigue/Tension level. It will involve heavy poundages and a pace and organization that ensure a stair–step effect. Also, it will include exercises adjusted to provide resistance closely matched to each muscle group's strength curve.

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